The Words of the Hanna Family
Greetings to dear brothers and sisters around the world.
Your Baltimore Family brings to you a hearty gust of salty air from this harbor town and a "Monsei" for all the work that you are doing.
Baltimore center began a year ago when a man who had been studying the Divine Principle in Washington moved to Baltimore and invited Anne Smith and Nanette Semha to spend a weekend and to teach Principle to some of the people of the city. They eagerly came and rounded up six people to teach the entire Principle to in one weekend! However, because of job and school commitments, they could not stay on, and continue working with these people.
When I graduated from college, I was given the opportunity to come to Baltimore and pick up where they left off. Soon after I arrived, the man that had been our host moved to Pennsylvania and a nearby apartment became the first official fulltime Baltimore center. Working alone provided an opportunity to really build some spiritual muscle. In September, Anne Smith arrived back to enter graduate school and continue the work that she had started here in the spring.
We have felt that Baltimore is a little like a bell that a diver recovers from a sunken Ship. To restore it, you have to chip and chip to finally get down to the bare metal. But that bright brassy is well worth your labor. Aggressive witnessing and teaching prove be formidable tools to knife through the spiritual encrustation of the city and to change its spiritual atmosphere.
When it snows here, the city sends out trucks to put thousands of tons of rock salt on the streets to melt the cold snow. Would it got be wonderful if that salt would also melt all the cold hearts and drive the enemy Satan far away from here? Sadly, men would not understand the sudden joy that they were feeling and we would probably begin again by doing this work the way we do it now. One thing we have learned in Baltimore is that the easy things don't easy last. Only when you pay a price for something in terms of blood, sweat and tears is it worthwhile and lasting. We are eager to pay that price so that many can come. This is the "Spirit of Baltimore."
Last June when the Baltimore Center first opened, Baltimore seemed deeply encrusted with evil. Satan's influence was apparent in the dirty streets, in the news stories of violence and political corruption, and in the lonely faces of people in the city. Many months passed before we were able to find a Center in which we could really begin to make a home for the children of Baltimore. But as of June 1970, things have really changed!
As spring approached, we moved into a perfect apartment on the top floor of a substantial apartment building on one of the main streets in the city. After scrubbing and painting the four large, comfortable rooms and the spacious hallway, we began a forty-day movement of fasting, witnessing and prayer to bring new members to the Baltimore Family. Regis Hanna had come alone in June 1969 and I had joined him in September. Many people had heard the Principle, some of whom continued to study, but no one had come who was deeply and fully committed to becoming a true child of Father. At the end of the forty-day movement Father answered our prayer in an unexpected way by sending Linda Marchant from Washington to work us. To have a working trinity in the Center added such a great deal of power and joy to Center life and witnessing activity. Soon we launched another forty-day movement in which one of us fasted every day, and for which we set a witnessing goal of talking to ten people each a day. At this time we were also joining the whole U.S. Family in our national 90-day movement of fasting witnessing and nightly, hourly prayer sessions. Needless to say, as all of us were students and all of us worked at least part time, our life was very intense and very active! Yet it was through this high activity that Father was able to create a home for Himself and for us in the Baltimore Center. Our weekly schedule of cleaning the Center, street preaching on Saturdays, cooking, practice teaching in the early morning, praying together, singing together, and witnessing together each day, drew us closer; together and to Father and brought us vitality and joy.
Interpersonal relationships in such a small Center teach us so much as we learn to share responsibilities with each other. Through some rough times we learned to respond more fully to each other as brothers and sisters. The give and take between us became magnetic, and some new students began to be more active, witnessing with us and practice teaching the Principle. In May, Lorenzo Gaztanaga our Cuban brother came to stay with us for a while and in June, he moved into the Center. Also, Chris Reed, a young school teacher in the city whom we met as part of our Free University teaching program, spending much time witnessing and praying with us. Recently we enjoyed a delicious curried chicken dinner which she prepared and brought to the Center. A Family is beginning to grow.
Regis had come alone to Baltimore as Center Director. When I joined him it was still hard to create a pattern of Family living with only two of us, although daily struggled for this. Both of us, having come from the national headquarters Center in Washington, D.C. were so eager to create a spiritual and physical pattern which would reflect Father's ideal and stand Baltimore in good stead as a foundation for His work there. When Linda came and as others responded, Father really began to reveal Himself in working through Regis to lead the Center in both a Fatherly and a brotherly way, and taught the rest of us much about being responsive followers and helpmates to each other in all ways. As I think about it I am stuck with the beauty of the Family life that Father is creating through us. How can anyone resist such a Father who cares for us so personally and deeply through good times and bad times alike; who supports us, chastises us, comforts us and loves us as we need it?
Somehow the streets don't seem as dirty now and the faces of people seem more receptive and more hopeful. Every night it seems someone new comes for dinner. Father has made definite and permanent gains in Baltimore City and has taught us each in a special way to represent Him more fully to bring the Principle to life here. As I come from school or work to climb the four flights of stairs to the Center, I often realize that I am coming not to just any place-I'm coming to a very special dwelling where Father and His children work, play, eat, sing, suffer and rejoice together, and where we prepare daily to receive more brothers and sisters; I'm really coming home.
Witnessing in Baltimore is one of our most cherished activities. Regis, Anne, and I all came from Washington, and the City has unfolded her heart to us through her peoples. As we witness in the many new and growingly familiar places, patterns are forming and we feel we are beginning to sense the needs here. Our brother Lorenzo and sisters Chris and Adele also have led the Center into greater knowledge and understanding of Baltimore. This is a place of contradictions and is often referred to as 'little New York.'
What is most readily apparent in the city is its generation gap of spiritual values. Baltimore was the center of religious tolerance in the American Colonies -- first as a heaven for Catholics, and later as the first U.S. site of other religious groups, including the Swedenborgian Church. Today, most of the churches in the City are sparsely filled with older people. Notable exceptions are churches where the Catholic Folk Masses are held, and a few churches concentrating on social action. When we church witness, we remember the gratitude we owe the Christian foundation and make every effort to reach them. The Unitarian frequently lends us their Parish Hall on Sunday afternoons to teach in. Akin to the spirit of the past that clings to these churches are the many antique shops and historical museums that these people cherish where we also witness. Most of the church group are very invested in the commercial atmosphere that is so much a part of the city. As a natural harbor on the Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore has long been a trading port and materialism runs rampant. Each day we go out during rush hour and witness to people returning home from work. What a challenge it is to draw them out of their weariness!
In reaction to this spirit many young people have turned to drugs and Eastern religions, as they have elsewhere in the world. Truly there thrives a much larger 'hippie' community than I expected, including macrobiotic restaurants, "head shop" (shops that all items appealing to people who have had a drug experience), bookshops and communes, religious and otherwise. Many gather in Mt. Vernon Place Park only three blocks from the Center. Last week we were witnessing there and a young chap told us that many of his acquaintances had received that they should go to the Park on Friday nights and wait for a very important message that they would be told there. We can't say that the spirit world isn't doing its part! Most of the people who are responding to the Principle are somewhere between two poles.
For the past year our great witnessing effort had been centered on the universities. Anne taught Chapter I to a large religion class at Oldfield's (an expensive girl's school) and the entire Principle is taught regularly at Johns Hopkins (world famous for its Medical School) through the Free University of Baltimore. There are over 15 colleges, universities, and professional schools in Baltimore. Some of the most responsive have been Hopkins, Towson State (where Lorenzo goes), Peabody Conservatory of Music, and University of Maryland Graduate schools (where Anne and Regis attend).
We concentrate on campus libraries for individual witno because the students there seem more serious and disciplined. Also the Enoch Pratt Library and Baltimore Museum of Art have been very fruitful with high quality people. It was at the Pratt Library that we developed `elevator witno.' You wait till several people get on the elevator, and witness them after the door has shut, between floors.
Our most hazardous witno was in the middle of the student demonstrations against President Nixon's Cambodian decision. While Regis and I were upstairs writing, typing, typing and mimeographing new flyers, Anne called up on the intercom, "You'd better hurry up with those flyers -- the students are marching right past our door." Sure enough St. Paul Street was filled with 'Strike' banners and fists. Satan was at the very gates. We quickly hurried pass our calls for a spiritual revolution that can pluck out the root cause of war -- ensuring peace forever. Some protesters stepped forward and helped us pass out our flayers. We had to be very careful not to get caught in the thick of the mass, for the mood was frustrated and angry. Father often, as on that day, gives us the feeling of being His band of spiritual guerrillas attacking Satan's strongholds.
To develop spiritual muscle, Baltimore has a tradition of street preaching on Saturday in the heart of the downtown shopping district. Sometimes we sing, usually beginning with "If I were Free to Speak My Mind." This becomes especially appropriate as the police cruise by. Usually we just find a gathering at a bus stop or corner, pop up and speak while our siblings witness to individuals in the crowd, then disappear only to reappear on another corner. In this way each person in the Center gets to street preach each week, at least once. Some people stop and listen but mostly we feel such joy at proclaiming Father's love and providence in the heart of Satan's territory. Father's power fills us as these experiences encourage us to care enough to be very brave.
Because the colleges are closed for the summer or having intense summer sessions we have been seeking new places for emphasis and have set a prayer condition to learn Father's desire for our witnessing, to let Him stretch us to where we can find the proper message for each person's need. We are learning to love Baltimore very much as we seek our Family from its many by ways and work for the day when this harbor city will match Father's vision of it.
All that I can really say is I have found God and all the love, happiness, joy, work and life that comes with Him. Furthermore, I Know that with Him there is also more to come.
He is so beautiful and all is so precious that how can I really express it in words?
I searched for a long time, always feeling that I had a mission. My success was always partial and for a while there just wasn't any. The main reasons for my failure were a huge gap within me and a rift in my own personality. And still I kept sweeping God under the rug. I knew that He was there but rarely publicly acknowledged Him, and worse, I hardly had any personal contact with Him or trust in Him.
Now things have changed. Thanks to God and His people.
In the Name of Our True Parents,
Although Baltimore is a small center, we felt that we should at least make an effort to do some work in establishing the Freedom Leadership Foundation in this city. Early in the fall, we bought a mimeograph Machine. Remembering a maxim of the New Left that somebody had passed along to us, "Eight People and a mimeograph machine can shut down a whole campus," we felt that two of God's children should be able to make a decent dent in the Johns Hopkins University campus political, scene by holding a course in Marxism under the title "Communism; A New Critique." our first experience teaching the basic tenets and fallacies of Marxism-Leninism was most educational, since we had students at both ends of the political spectrum.
Following this, we arranged a speaking engagement at a local church that sponsors a "youth fellowship" night. They have about 30-40 groups of from 6 to 10 youths each who meet with a particular adult leader to discuss topics that they choose as a group. The minister who sponsors the program circulated a notice of the topic of our speech, "Marxism and Atheism," and about 50 young people showed up. We talked on the unreasonableness of Atheism from a scientific standpoint and some of the basic tenets of Marxism. There were several questions about the goals of the Freedom Leadership Foundation and about our stand on Vietnam. Afterwards, about a quarter of those present came up to the front to ask questions and participate in further discussion rather than engage in the dancing and refreshments outside. Of these, some attended the next lecture series that we gave on Marxism and also heard all of the Divine Principle.
Although it was late November when we ended our first lecture series, we did not want to stop FLF work. So we planned a three night course on Marxism to be spread over the tree weeks left before the students at Johns Hopkins University left for Christmas vacation. A small but very interested group attended.
During the spring semester, we sponsored a speaker on Vietnam, Dolph George. We passed out 6,000 leaflets and made contacts with other people in the Baltimore area who wanted to understand American involvement in Vietnam and who felt that the information disseminated by the Peace Movement was in some cases false. Several of these people said that they did not want to be associated with any group but that they were willing to work with us on individual issues. They promised to keep in touch over the summer.
During the days immediately before the April 15 demonstrations, we passed out information leaflets at school and on the telling what a 'Communist victory in Southeast Asia might mean in terms of mass murders to all or for "land reforms" as the north Vietnamese have termed it. These leaflets brought back some responses by telephone and were usually greeted eagerly on the street once people found that we were supporting the President's policy.
Because the ideas and concepts of Marx are being so freely discussed on campuses today, many student feel very ignorant if they do not know something about them. The Free University here has proved to be a very effective way for us to get a room on campus to teach. Students are attracted to a course that offers factual information and which has no reading assignments.
Our experience has taught us that the best way to teach is to give two or three lectures on Marxism and Leninism and then to follow with the Divine Principle. This way we can assert that we are not only debunking a philosophy that does not work but that we are offering a powerful alternative- something that is contemporary and which is being put into practice successfully today! When we tell people at the beginning of the course that we believe that Marx's teachings are antiquated and that we have a powerful alternative, they are most interested.
On the basis of these experiences, we feel well equipped to advertise on campuses to invite students to classes and to teach the fallacies of Marxism. This summer we plan to contact the colleges in the area where the Free University has not been publicized and see if it is possible for us to offer a lecture series on each of these campuses. Hopefully, we would be able to cover each of the campuses in one school year by devoting about three weeks or a month to each campus. One thing is very clear, teaching the truth about Marxism will attract many who are looking for a new idea and who have yet found something to dedicate themselves to. In such a state, they should be very receptive to Principle. We feel very responsible to show them that there is really only one way to attain true freedom-through knowing and sharing the personality of God. Only when men can do that, can the Brotherhood of Man become a reality.